Thoughts on Martial Arts Journalism
I consider myself a martial arts journalist and I take my job very seriously. For me, the job of a journalist in the martial arts is a very difficult one. I am not an expert in anything, but a student of everything. I am attempting to provide the most accurate information for my readers, but this is not an easy task. There are so many different martial arts and so many different martial arts instructors. There are so many ways to teach and so many ways to learn, and there are so many students to be taught. When we talk about rank, there are different ranks and different ways of ranking and there is so much political mayhem that sometimes I feel myself drowning in it all. I have had to stumble my way through, trying to figure out who is who and what is what in a martial world that is divided against itself. All this finally led me to adopt a motto which is best shared through a quote by Master Gichin Funakoshi:
“He who would study Karate-Do must always strive to be inwardly humble and outwardly gentle. However, once he has decided to stand up for the cause of justice, then he must have the courage expressed in the saying, ‘Even if it must be ten million foes, I go!’ Thus, he is like the green bamboo stalk: hollow (kara) inside, straight, and with knots, that is, unselfish, gentle, and moderate.”
~ Master Gichin Funakoshi
I do not want to be the martial arts police. I cannot do a background check on every martial arts instructor. I cannot determine what is true or false in all the information that passes to me via the internet, and I cannot pretend to be an expert adviser. What I can do is share with you what others share with me. What I can do is provide a forum for others to share what they have learned and are learning, and I can have the grace to allow others to make mistakes, to change and grow, just as I am doing. I will always be open to instruction and I hope I will not create my opinions about other martial artists until I have actually met them and worked out with them on the mat. My job is to find the positive in the martial arts and share what I discover with you.
There will always be martial artists with persona’s that are bigger than life. People either create the persona themselves or the persona is created for them by other people. These personas can cause a lot of dissension in the martial arts community if we feel we have to compete. However, I think that competition needs to be left in tournament settings, and instead, we need to promote what is positive about one another. If we dwell on the positive, we are setting an example of what it means to be a true martial artist. In this way we bring honor back to the martial arts and to one another in the true spirit of Budo. If we have, as individuals, the goal of making ourselves better people, instead of trying to change or condemn others, the world will change one individual at a time and people will no longer have to pretend to be someone they are not. We will no longer idolize one another, but instead, learn to respect one another for the right reasons. This does not mean that we do not hold one another accountable, but we cannot hold someone accountable that we do not know. What a difference we can make if we come together and sow seeds of camaraderie and support one another.
Once again, I think Funakoshi says it best:
The ultimate aim of the art of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the characters of its participants.
~ Master Gichin Funakoshi
Yours in the Arts,